London, UK /Music Industry Newswire/ — Virgin Media and Universal Music today unveiled plans for a ground-breaking digital music service designed to bring about a rapid and permanent change in the way UK consumers buy and listen to music. The service â€“ a world first â€“ will enable any Virgin Media broadband customer to both stream and download as many music tracks and albums as they want from Universal Musicâ€™s entire catalogue, in return for a great-value monthly subscription fee. Downloaded music will be theirs to keep permanently and to store on any MP3 compatible device. An â€œentry levelâ€ offer will also be available for customers who download music regularly, but may not want an unlimited service.
The service is intended to launch later this year. Virgin Media is negotiating with other UK major and independent music labels and publishers to ensure it can offer a complete, compelling catalogue by the time it launches.
The new service reflects the shared commitment of Virgin Media and Universal Music to keep step with growing demand for online music in an increasingly digital world. In parallel, the two companies will be working together to protect Universal Musicâ€™s intellectual property and drive a material reduction in the unauthorized distribution of its repertoire across Virgin Mediaâ€™s network.
This will involve implementing a range of different strategies to educate file sharers about online piracy and to raise awareness of legal alternatives. They include, as a last resort for persistent offenders, a temporary suspension of internet access. No customers will be permanently disconnected and the process will not depend on network monitoring or interception of customer traffic by Virgin Media.
Commenting on the new service, Virgin Mediaâ€™s CEO, Neil Berkett, said: “In terms of both convenience and value, our new music service will be superior to anything that’s available online today and provides a fair deal for both consumers and artists. There is no better example of Virgin Media’s commitment to harnessing digital technology to give customers what they want, when they want and how they want.”
Lucian Grainge, Chairman and Chief Executive of Universal Music Group International, said: â€œBritain has a world-class reputation for artists and music. Now British consumers will have access to a world-class digital music service. I believe this puts all of us at the forefront of a new era.â€
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